Organisation - May 1, 2013

Less red tape for foreign students

New immigration law cuts red tape.
University to be contact point for students from now on.

Students celebrate the Day of the International Student
In the near future international students will no longer have to apply for their residence permits themselves. From the next acade­mic year this process will be the responsibility of the university. A new immigration law comes into force on 1 July 2013: something the government wants because the current legislation for internatio­nal students involves too much red tape. And that does not fit well with the Dutch ambition to make its name as a knowledge hub.
The main impact of the new law will be to make life easier for international students, says Jeroen Ouburg, team leader of the International Student Service Centre. 'Wageningen University will become the contact point for the Immigration and Naturalization Service for all international students. Students will no longer have direct contact with the IND and will not have to fill in forms or answer incompre­hensible letters. They can concen­trate entirely on their studies.'
Valid longer
The new law ensures that all the procedures go quite a bit faster. Up to now students wanting to come and study in the Netherlands have to arrange an entry visa through the university before setting off, and then on arrival they have to apply to the IND for a residence permit. In the new system Wageningen will submit a combined application for a visa and a residence permit. Moreover, the residence permit will now be valid for the nominal duration of their degree programme plus three months. Currently the residence permit is only valid for a year. Ouburg: 'The student then has to renew the permit every year at the IND, with all the red tape that involves. It takes six to eight weeks every time.'
Under the new law the responsibilities of the university are extended considerably. 'It gives us a lot of extra work,' acknowledges Ouburg. But that is outweighed by the advantages for students, he thinks. There is one disadvantage though, says Ouburg. Because the IND will no longer have direct contact with the students, the university is obliged from the academic year of 2013/2014 to report on whether they have made satisfactory progress in their studies. Every international student must gain a minimum of 50 percent of the nominal study points. If they do not manage that, their residence permit expires. 'The IND wants us to check whether the student really is studying and there are sure to be some student who don't manage to achieve the norm. We are going to have to report that to the IND. Sending a student away is not nice for anybody.' 

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